Movie Review: The Hunger Games
By Eric Hughes
April 17, 2012
As you may have noticed, I didn’t have much to think or say about the “kids,” even though their characters are what really drive the story in The Hunger Games. I had no idea who the actor portraying Gale was(and still don't), I was familiar with Josh Hutcherson from The Kids Are All Right, and I hadn’t seen Winter’s Bone so I didn’t know what to make of Jennifer Lawrence. (I still haven’t seen Winter’s Bone).
As promising as The Hunger Games’ “adult” cast might have seemed to me, I can say with a great deal of confidence that having now seen The Hunger Games, Jennifer Lawrence bested any actor, full-grown or otherwise. She embodies and is Katniss Everdeen, and portrayed the young heroine like a subtle firecracker.
Just today I shared a conversation with a friend, and we agreed that the bit of scene where Cinna says goodbye to Katniss - she then hesitates before riding up the platform into the games’ arena - was momentous and beautiful. It was about as flawless as can be, and I have no doubt it’s Lawrence - her body language, and her closemouthed acknowledgement of the horrors that might materialize
upstairs - that got it there.
Cinna (Kravitz) is Katniss’ personal stylist for the games, and I expected him to be a more prominent character than he is in The Hunger Games. From what I remember from the books, at least, I recall him being like a second mentor, after Haymitch, for Katniss. He believes in her, he certainly trusts her, and in the end promises to distinguish her from the other 23 participants in the games.
He makes good on that promise, I think, but at the expense of really not being a major player in the movie. I don’t know that I’d express such disappointment in Cinna’s character were it not for the fact that in the few scenes he does share with Katniss, he’s something of a predatory creepster. He seems to consider Katniss desirable, and from what I remember, that wasn’t suggested in the books. I’d argue if Cinna had appeared more, we would have witnessed hard scenes of him at work on his trade, making Katniss beautiful and proving his worth to the games and, in effect, to the Capitol. This might have expunged such heavy concentration of Lenny Kravitz eye oogling the crap out of Katniss.
But this kind of thing, really, is the medium’s shortfall, and probably the reason why the books are usually better than the movies. Had more content been included, The Hunger Games would have run even longer than 142 minutes. And The Hunger Games is a long 142 minutes.
Authors get away with much anything they please, so long as they keep mindful of their audience, and their readers engaged. George R.R. Martin writes entire Bibles each time he adds to his Song of Ice and Fire series, and yet it is debatable that he succeeds each time. Abbreviate, say, the 800 or so pages of A Game of Thrones into a two-hour (even a three-hour) movie, and it probably wouldn’t work. There’s too much “stuff” in A Game of Thrones for it to have even a believable chance as a theatrical adaptation. HBO had the right idea to adapt the books to series, but I can’t much speak for it because I haven’t seen the show.